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Content Is King

December 16, 2009

“Content is King”…. so proclaimed Sumner Redstone, majority owner of Viacom (MTV Networks, CBS, Paramount Pictures, et al), at a meeting I attended in the mid-90s. Now when you are that rich you can own both content and distribution, which he did and still does. But his larger point was this: without compelling content, you just have distribution and noise.

Fifteen years later and his words seem truer than ever. Distribution options have exploded through the roof and virtually anyone with an internet connection can add their opinion to the gluttony of voices overwhelming us. But what makes compelling content? Just because you have the technology to produce it doesn’t make it interesting to consume. Remember “57 Channels and Nothin’ On”?

Therein lies the debate.

Take social media. I often hear “we should be on [insert your favorite social media partner here]”. But without compelling content AND a clear business strategy, having a presence on a social media website doesn’t mean you are moving the needle for your business or engaging your customers in a meaningful way. Having a Facebook account or a Twitter account is not an objective. It’s a distribution tactic that has to be grounded in a larger strategic initiative.

I am a fan of how social media connects consumers in meaningful ways. Some brands understand the power of the 3rd party endorsement and don’t try to control the message (as Coca-Cola did with endorsing a Facebook page started by their raving fans). But many other companies fail miserably when they jump into the social media space without clearly defined objectives.

I also love the explosion of video on the web and all that it entails.  But just because you have the latest Flip device doesn’t make you a good producer. Start with your objective. Then acknowledge your strengths and limitations before you produce content just because you need “video on the web”.

Make it compelling. Hold it up to your brand standards. Ensure that your efforts are, in fact, enhancing your brand and not detracting from it.

Start with a well-defined objective. Deliver compelling content. And let your compelling content make your brand the king.

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